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Kaarina Nikunen

Professor, Communication and Media Research
Tampere University
phone number+358401904094
City Centre Campus

About me

My research explores the ways in which media construct understanding of the world and possibilities of participation: social justice and solidarity are important concepts in my work. I am particularly interested in the ways in which emotions and affect drive solidarity, social movements and participation – and the way emotions are crafted through and with media. This work comes together in my recent book Media Solidarities: Emotions, Power and Justice in the Digital Age (Sage, 2019). My current research focuses on questions data and inequalities that I explore in two projects: Fair Data and IDA (Intimacy in Data Driven Culture). Fair Data project explores datafied media environment and its implications on public participation. It explores fair data visions and practices in media industries and among citizens. It is part of BIBU (Tackling Biases and Bubbles in Participation) research funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland. IDA explores explores the ways in which digitalization and datafication affect and shape private, social, occupational, and collective lives and everyday experiences. I am also co-leading a Nordic research network Datafication, Data Inequalities and Data Justice.

My previous research projects focused on issues of racism, emotions and migration in digital media: HYBRA: racism and public communication in the hybrid media system (2016-2019) explored rise of anti-immigrant and racist discourse on social media with politics of irony. Information and emotions in the refugee debate (2016-2018) examined emotional structures and dynamics of the so called refugee crisis in 2015 with computational, qualitative and ethnographic methods. In Structures of Compassion -project I conducted ethnographic research on European refugee politics, geographic imagination and politics of place in the Mediterranean coast, in Southern Italy as well as on affective economy of humanitarian reality shows and journalism of hospitality.


IDA: Intimacy in Data Driven Culture 

HAFFECT: Everyday Affective Practices Online: Producing, Experiencing and Managing Hate Speech in the Digital Era 

Journalists' experiences of harassment 

DataNord Network 

HYBRA: Racisms and public communications in hybrid media environment (2016-2019) 

Selected publications

Authored and edited books

Nikunen, K (2019) Media Solidarities: Emotions, power and justice in the digital age. London: Sage.

Maasilta, M. & Nikunen, K. (2018) (eds.) Pakolaisuus, tunteet ja media. Tampere: Vastapaino.

Nikunen, K. and Eide, E. (2011) (eds) Media in Motion: Cultural complexity and migration in the Nordic Region. London: Routledge.

Paasonen S., Nikunen, K., Saarenmaa, L. (2007) (eds) Pornification: Sex and Sexuality in Media Culture. Oxford: Berg. 

Nikunen, K. (2005) Faniuden aika. Kolme tapausta tv-ohjelmien faniudesta vuosituhannen taitteen Suomessa. Tampere: TUP. 

Research articles

Nikunen, K. (2023) Repairing algorithms, rebuilding data paths: material solidarity, the digital infrastructure, and the public. In Parks, Velkova & De Ridder (eds) Media Backends: The Politics of Infrastructure, Clouds, and Artificial Intelligence. University of Illinois Press.

Nikunen, K. & Valtonen, S. (2023) Undocumented and datafied. In K. Leurs & S. Ponzanesi (eds.) Doing Digital Migrant Studies. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Nikunen K. (2023) Echo of Experience: a feminist response to racialization of sexual crime in the hybrid media event. International Journal of Communication 17(2023):1348-1364.

Nikunen, K. & Valtonen, S. (2022) Precariousness and hope: Digital everyday life of the undocumented migrants explored through collaborative photography. Media and Communication 10(2)

Laaksonen, S., Hokka, J. & Nikunen, K. (2022) Affective visual rhetoric of the far-right across social media. In Petterson K. & Nortio, E. (eds.)The far-right discourse of multiculturalism in everyday talk: Reproduction and contestation in intergroup interactions. Palgrave McMillan.

Andreassen, R., Kaun, A. & Nikunen, K. (2021) Fostering the data welfare state: A Nordic perspective on datafication. Nordicom Review 42(2):207-223.

Nikunen, K. (2021) Ghosts of White Methods? Challenges of Big Data Research in Exploring Racism in Digital Context. Big Data & Society Sept 8 2021.

Nikunen, K. & Hokka, J. (2020) Welfare state values and public service media in the era of datafication. Special Issue on Datafication and the Welfare State, edited by Lina Dencik and Anne Kaun. Global Perspectives 1(2). 

Nikunen, K., Hokka, J. and Nelimarkka, M. (2021) Affective practice of Soldiering: How sharing images is used to spread extremist and racist ethos on Soldiers of Odin Facebook site. Television and New Media 22(1).

Nikunen, K. (2019) Once a Refugee: Selfie activism, visualized citizenship and the space of appearance. Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture 17(2): 154-170.

Nikunen, K. (2019) Emotions, Affect and the Media. In Curran J. and Hesmondhalgh, D. (eds) Media & Society. London: Bloomsbury.

Nikunen, K. (2019) Breaking the Silence: From representations of victims and threat towards spaces of voice. In Georgiou, M. Leurs, K., Smets, K. & Witteborn, S. (eds) Sage Handbook of Migration and Media. London: Sage. 

Nikunen, K. (2018) From Irony to Solidarity: Affective practice in social media activism. Studies of Transition States and Societies 10(2): 10-21.

Nikunen, K (2017) Geographical imaginations, politics of hospitality and the media in the European refugee crisis. In K. Fast et al. (eds) Geomedia: Spaces and Mobilities in Mediatized Worlds. London: Routledge. 

Nikunen, K (2016) Doing Good Reality, Masculine Care and Affective Capitalism. Ephemera: theory & politics in organization 16(4):163-184.

Nikunen, K. (2016) Media, Passion and Humanitarian Reality Television European Journal of Cultural Studies, 19 (3):265-282. 

Nikunen, K. (2015) Intimacy Re-Defined: Online Performance and the Urge of Posing. Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies 11:1. 

Nikunen, K. (2015) Politics of Irony as Emerging Sensibility of Anti-Immigrant Debate. In Rikke Andreassen and Katherine Vitus (eds.) Affectivity and Race: Studies from Nordic Contexts. London: Routledge.

Nikunen, K. (2014) Hopes of Hospitality: Media, refugee crisis and the politics of a place. International Journal of Cultural Studies 19(2): 161-176.

Nikunen, K. (2014) Losing My Profession: Age, experience and expertise in the changing newsrooms. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism 15(7): 868–888.

Horsti, K. & Nikunen, K. (2013) Ethics of Hospitality in Changing Journalism: The Response to the Rise of the Anti-Immigrant Movement in Finnish Media Publicity. European Journal of Cultural Studies 16(4): 489-504. 

Orgad, S. & Nikunen, K. (2015) The Humanitarian Makeover. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 13(2):229-251. 

Nikunen, K. (2013) Difference in Reality: Ethnic minorities and the boundaries of the nation in reality TV in Finland. Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture 11(4):303-317. 

Nikunen, K. (2007) Intermedial Practises of Fandom. Nordicom Review 28(2)111-128.

Nikunen, K. (2007) Cosmo Girls Talk: Blurred Boundaries of Sex & Porn. In Paasonen, Nikunen & Saarenmaa (eds) Pornification. Sex and Sexuality in Media Culture. Oxford: Berg, pp. 73–86. 

Laiho, M. and Nikunen K. (2012) Uhreista parhaat? Lapset Irakin sodan ja Gazan konfliktin uutiskuvissa. Media ja Viestintä 35(4-5):118-136.

Nikunen, K. (2010) Rakastamisen vaikeudesta: Internet, maahanmuutto-keskustelu ja tunteet. Media ja Viestintä 33(4):7–26.